healthy |ˈhelθē|adjective ( healthier , healthiest )in good health: : feeling fit and healthy.• (of a part of the body) not diseased : healthy cells.• indicative of, conducive to, or promoting good health : a healthy appetite | a healthy balanced diet.• (of a person's attitude) sensible and well balanced : a healthy contempt for authority.• figurative in a good condition• desirable; beneficial• A conscious choice; A life-long commitment.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Healthy Coping Skills

Warning; I am pretty opinionated about addictions, harm reduction, and mental illness, but I love to debate! If you disagree with anything I have posted below feel free to comment about it and weigh in on the topic.

My favorite people to work with are those who have addictions.

It can be anything from alcohol, to crack, to food, to negative attention. It doesn't matter the addiction, I enjoy working with it. Not the easiest thing to deal with/counsel on, but it is interesting and unique to everyone, and for that, I am thankful.

Addictions are, in a twisted way, easy. They are merely a coping mechanism for something else. The addiction is not the problem, it is the poorly selected solution. When you work with someone who has an addiction you often have to look deeper, find out the root cause of it. Once you fix that, the person can work on healing their addiction.

My addiction was food. I ate to cover up my feelings of self loathing, my anger at my family, and the stress from day-to-day. Once I worked through those feelings, I was able to address the addiction of food for what it was. I was able to learn healthy coping skills, and that has helped me keep the weight off, keep the food monster off my back, and keep me mentally happy and healthy.
Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

Many health problems are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:

  • Pain of any kind
  • Heart disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Skin conditions, such as eczema

This means we need to all learn how to cope effectively right? Right!

Facts about Coping (source):
  1. No single coping strategy is going to be effective all the time; that's why it is necessary to have a repertoire of stress relief techniques. When you have many possible coping techniques, you can draw upon several as needed to manage each stressful situation.
  2. The purpose of relaxation and other stress reduction techniques is to relieve stress and anxiety in the moment, and decrease the stress response. In this calm state, you will be able to think more clearly and solve problems more effectively.
  3. Sometimes coping strategies that are initially effective start to lose their effectiveness. This is perfectly normal. If a coping strategy stops working, this is a reminder to develop some more options. 
  4. It is important to continue to develop new means of coping. As discussed above, the more coping strategies you have, the greater the chance that you will be able to find a method that works for a particular stressor. Another bonus is that by trying new things, you continue to learn and keep life interesting! A new hobby can be an excellent way to relieve stress. 
  5. Only you can decide what works best. Each of us is a unique person with our own individual responses to stress and our own ways of coping with stress and anxiety. Explore various strategies to find out which ones work for you. A strategy may be very effective for someone else, but not at all useful for you. Similarly, a coping strategy that did not work for you in the past may now be very effective in relieving your stress. Keep trying new ideas.
Here are some healthy ways to cope with stress:
  • Write; I blog, some people journal. Writing down what is upsetting me helps me gather all of my thoughts in one place. It is a way to get it all out, so that I can come back in a few days once I have cooled off and reflect.
  • Read; Reading books, magazines, healthy living blogs, helps me to take some time for me; forget the outside stress and just be in the moment.
  • Yoga, Walking, Other Exercise; Get those endorphins going! Exercise helps get the blood flowing in the good way, it is a free mood lift :) Yoga in particular helps with stress management because of the positive effects such a lower blood pressure, increased oxygen capacity, ext...
  • Attempt to increase self control of the situation; take a few minutes, is there anything, anything at all, that you can do right now to change/diffuse the stressful situation? If not, then stress will not do any good, accept that change will happen, time will pass, and perhaps you will be able to deal with the stress at a different time.
  • Look at the situation with the "Glass Half Full." Have an optimistic outlook! Look at the positives in the situation and write them down. Always identify the situation as an opportunity to learn something about yourself. It can be anything from patience, to taking five minutes to yourself to just breath.
  • Listen to your favorite music while taking a warm bubble bath. Ahhh. So relaxing.
How do you cope with stressful situations?